For Immediate Release
Director of Corporate Communications
Virginia Hospital Center
Arlington, VA: July 20, 2020 – A pilot program exploring the impact of telemedicine on outcomes for high-risk maternity patients and patients with chronic medical conditions run by Virginia Hospital Center (VHC), a community-based hospital providing medical services to the Washington, DC metropolitan area for 75 years, with support from the Jennifer Bush-Lawson Foundation (JBLF) has made a remarkable impact on the lives of low-income, high-risk individuals who may not have otherwise had access to consistent, quality healthcare.
As of December 31, 2019, the telemedicine program has resulted in:
- A 25.7 percent reduction in c-section rates for high-risk pregnancies;
- A 61.5 percent reduction in NICU admissions for newborns;
- A 65.2 percent reduction in emergency room visits;
- A 56.1 percent reduction in hospital admissions; and
- A 69.2 percent increase in the number of hypertension patients who achieved their goal blood pressure.
“Telemedicine involves patients as active participants in managing their care, ensuring a higher percentage of healthy outcomes,” said Michelle Altman, MBA, RN, Patient Care Director at the VHC Outpatient Clinic. “Telemedicine patients are more likely to keep scheduled appointments, comply with plans of care and take medications as prescribed which makes them less likely to require a trip to the emergency room or a hospital stay.”
Launched in 2016 with a $275,000 pledge from CareFirst, the pilot program focused primarily on patients with diabetes, blood pressure issues and other concerns that require more consistent monitoring. Throughout the program, more than $120,000 in donations from the JBLF ensured coverage of staff time and allowed the Clinic to establish a more permanent infrastructure for the program which readied the clinic to expand its telemedicine appointments by more than 300 percent following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide care to patients without the risk of exposure.
“Providing economically vulnerable women better access to the maternal care they need is at the very core of JBLF’s mission,” said JBLF Executive Director Kelly Garrity. “Programs like this telemedicine pilot are transformative for women with high-risk pregnancies who do not have the option to take time off work or travel for frequent medical appointments.”
The program will continue to operate out of the Virginia Hospital Center Outpatient Clinic, which serves the community by providing healthcare services to patients with or without insurance. The telemedicine program is fully integrated into VHC’s electronic records management system to make it readily accessible for physicians and patients and a Spanish translator is available.